Just over a month ago, Jon Chait of TNR predicted that conservatives would “freak out” if and when health reform legislation was indeed enacted. Aside from the fact that many of them have been drinking their own kool-aid about the allegedly totalitarian implications of a health care system that would maintain America’s uniquely capitalist orientation towards health services, conservatives spent far too much time and energy celebrating the death of reform to accept its resurrection.
I don’t believe in spending too much time on schadenfreude, but it has been interesting to see the absolute shock with which some conservatives and tea party activists have reacted to last night’s vote. My favorite reaction is this from Newt Gingrich, posted on the Human Events site:
This will not stand.
No one should be confused about the outcome of Sunday’s vote
This is not the end of the fight it is the beginning of the fight.
The American people spoke decisively against a big government, high tax, Washington knows best, pro trial lawyer centralized bureaucratic health system
In every recent poll the vast majority of Americans opposed this monstrosity
Speaker Pelosi knew the country was against the bill. That is why she kept her members trapped in Washington and forced a vote on Sunday.
She knew if she let the members go home their constituents would convince them to vote no.
The Obama-Pelosi-Reid machine combined the radicalism of Alinsky, the corruption of Springfield and the machine power politics of Chicago.
Sunday was a pressured, bought, intimidated vote worthy of Hugo Chavez but unworthy of the United States of America.
It is hard to imagine how much pressure they brought to bear on congressman Stupak to get him to accept a cynical, phony clearly illegal and unconstitutional executive order on abortion. The ruthlessness and inhumanity of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid machine was most clearly on display in their public humiliation of Stupak.
Hugo Chavez! Saul Alinsky! A six-adjective sentence (“big government, high tax, Washington knows best, pro trial lawyer centralized bureaucratic health system”)! The end of civilization as we know it!
This is the same Newt Gingrich, mind you, who led a Republican-controlled Congress over the brink in 1995 and 1996 in the pursuit of extremely unpopular policies, arguing he had a mandate from the electorate to carry out a conservative revolution. And this is the same Newt Gingrich who increased the power of the Speaker’s Office to levels not seen since the days of “Czar” Reed, all but abolishing the seniority system and making loyalty to the Speaker and the Caucus’ agenda the only criterion for advancement. As for “intimidation”: wonder what Gingrich thought of those Republicans who placed photos of defeated 1994 Democrats on the seats of wavering Democratic Members yesterday?
Gingrich’s crocodile tears for Bart Stupak are even more ludicrous. Stupak made himself a national celebrity by creating a symbolic fight over essentially inconsequential language differences in the House and Senate provisions on abortion. Yesterday he accepted a symbolic victory that was equally inconsequential, and folded his tent. I can’t imagine how Obama, Pelosi and Reed were guilty of “ruthlessness and inhumanity” by accepting his face-saving deal.
Newt was almost certainly playing for the galleries where his heart really lives these days: among potential 2012 caucus-goers in Iowa, a right-tilting crowd if ever there was one. And speaking of Iowa Republicans, Rep. Steve King outdid Gingrich in his remarks to a crowd of Tea Party protestors outside the Capitol last night:
“You are the awesome American people,” said King. “If I could start a country with a bunch of people, they’d be the folks who were standing with us the last few days. Let’s hope we don’t have to do that! Let’s beat that other side to a pulp! Let’s chase them down. There’s going to be a reckoning!”
It’s interesting how King alternates between a threat of violence and a threat to leave this godless socialist country behind and take the “real Americans” with him.
Let’s hope Republicans get a grip over the next few days.